#ARA15 set to be a world class conference

By Nicola Garrett

7 May 2015

This year marks the 56th conference of the Australian Rheumatology Association and it’s Adelaide’s turn to host. Local rheumatologist Sam Whittle was given the task of coming up with a programme to rival all programmes and after a quick chat about this year’s highlights we are confident delegates will not be disappointed.

The main highlight of this year’s conference is the quality of the international speakers that the conference committee has been able to attract, says Whittle.

All five of the international speakers are world class in their area of science but also as speakers and communicators, he says.

Here are the bits not to miss.

Sunday highlights

At 13:45-15:15 there’s a session with Luke O’Neill (Ireland) and Mark Hutchinson (Adelaide) looking at innate immunity in rheumatic disease and pain. Luke is a world expert on innate immunity and according to Whittle is probably one of the best basic science communicators in the world.

Having these two guys together in the one session make it a world-class session, he says.

There’s time to have a quick afternoon tea and a look at the posters before heading to the session on biologics registries at 15:45 – 17:00. Peter Foley, Geoff Littlejohn and Lyn March will be looking at where we are now, and where we should be going.

We’ve lagged a little bit compared to other countries around the world and the idea is to get different stakeholders together to try and work out how we can actually get a better biologics registry in Australia, says Whittle.

The focus to the debate, which Whittle says is likely to be vigorous, is the issue of how Australian rheumatology can answer the question of risk of skin cancer in rheumatic disease with biologics and other DMARDS.

He says that every time he goes to an international meeting he’s asked why Australia hasn’t answered this question yet.

At 17:00 it’s time to round off a packed day by listening to Peter Roberts-Thomson deliver the Milazzo Oration before heading off to sample some of the fine food and wine Adelaide has to offer. Just make a mental note not to indulge too much as the fun run is at 6:15 the next morning.

Monday highlights

After a quick lap around the park it will be time to head to the first basic science session at 08:30 – 10.00 where TH17 cell expert Vijay Kuchroo from Harvard will speak on new frontiers in autoimmune disease.  He’ll be joined by two local experts Simon Barry from Adelaide who will talk about t-reg cells and Ranjeny Thomas from Queensland who is going to talk about antigen specific therapy in RA.

You’ll just have time for a quick coffee before rushing to secure your seat at the 11:00 am session featuring Greg Wells (Toronto) on the role of the rheumatologist in improving the performance of athletes.

He’ll be joined by Mark Fisher a local sports doctor who will talk about managing rheumatic disease in athletes.  In the same session obesity expert Garry Wittert will talk about how the issue of obesity should be managed in rheumatology.

Monday night is the gala dinner which will be held at Adelaide zoo. Pre-dinner drinks will be held in the panda enclosure but if this isn’t exciting enough, Chef Simon Bryant of Cook and Chef fame has designed the menu to a rheumatology theme.

“It’s going to involve lots of bones and joints, omega-3s,” explains Whittle.

The meal will come out on platters on shared tables and following the meal Bryant will talk about his menu.

Tuesday highlights:

Between 8:30 and 10:00 there are two sessions on hot drugs. Lisa Stamp (New Zealand) will be talking about allopurinol and you can hear all about biosimilars from Michael James. 

And so much more!

There are many more sessions and we’ve only just touched the surface of what looks like an awesome conference.

For the full programme and abstracts click here.

If you can’t make the conference be sure to look out for our daily updates by following us on twitter @the_limbic. The conference hashtag is #ARA15

Come and say hi

We’re new on the block so please come and say hello — you can find us in the exhibition hall.




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